Holy Day or Holiday

I've recently returned from a holiday with my husband in the Austrian Alps. For us, walking in the mountains restores a sense of proportion and ‘joy of being’.

On the one hand is the awesome scale of the landscape. On the other is the beauty, seen on the tiniest scale in the anemones, gentians and edelweiss opening in rock crevices above the tree line.

We like to start each day by rising as high as possible, using the chair or gondola lifts. The day’s activity then becomes a homeward walk, assisted by sticks, anticipating a superb evening meal and warm Tyrolean welcome. We follow well-trodden hiking paths, from one mountain alm to the next. At each stage of the journey we look forward to the next beaker of milk straight from the cow or the beer kept chilled in the icy water of the mountain brooks. It feels like a foretaste of heaven.

In the fourth commandment (Exodus 20 vv. 8-11) God gives the Sabbath principle to stop work at least one day in seven. A regular ‘holy day’ is a time set apart for rest, refreshment and renewal of relationships. As Jesus pointed out, this is for our benefit. If you are ‘on holiday’ now, enjoy it! If now is a busy time for you, do you plan regular pause points? Ultimately, we find true rest in relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Holidays or ‘holy days’ give opportunity for that relationship to develop. Maybe you know this version of Psalm 23 ‘for Busy People’ by Toki Miyashina.

“The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush;

he makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals,

he provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.

He leads me in the way of efficiency, through calmness of mind;
and his guidance is peace.

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day

I will not fret, for his presence is here.

His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in balance.

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of activity,

by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility;

My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours

and I shall walk in the pace of my Lord,

and dwell in his house for ever.”

(from the Lion Book of Famous Prayers, Lion, 1983, pp.114-115)

Photo: my own, taken in the Stubaitl, Tirol, Austria


  1. Glad you had such a super holiday, Nancy and I agree about the importance of them or at least of a change in routine and time just to be and to reflect..

  2. I'm guessing you took that photo there? It's absolutely beautiful! I've always wanted to go to the alps since reading the Chalet School books as a girl :) And I love how you got as high as you could and then walked down. Mountains always restore my soul.

  3. What an adventure! Sounds wonderful. I am in great need of a holiday/change of scenery and hope in the next few days I can finally schedule one. This time of year is terribly busy for me and for various reasons I haven't been able to plan time away. I'm feeling almost desperate to vacate! I do enjoy seeing everyone's photos and hearing about their journeys, though. Thanks for sharing yours!

  4. A lovely photograph. Your post is a wake up call to me to stop and draw breath. Thank you.

  5. Thanks Perpetua - I don't think you have to go away to have a holiday or pause moment - but it helps!
    Rhoda - yes the photo is mine. I read the Chalet School books too - can't remember much about them except they gave me a sense of the romance of mountains.
    Penelopepiscopal - hope you can get a really good break soon.
    Chelliah - hope you are stopping and drawing breath often!

  6. Oh beautiful. I have never been to the Austrian Alps, but must try to get there. We did do the Swiss Alps, but in a camper van, with short walks. They were gorgeous indeed!


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